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Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes eat ice cream while Arthur Labinjo-Hughes starves to death [Video]

Harrowing video footage shows the monstrous stepmother of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes devouring a McDonald’s takeaway while the doomed six-year-old boy starves in the hallway.

Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes, the pair who were sentenced to more than 20 years each for their roles in the death of little Arthur this week, can be seen tucking into ice creams at her Solihull home in West Midlands, last year.

While the couple relax on the sofa, Arthur is left to stand by himself in the hallway, wearing a fluffy onesie in sweltering temperatures.

In other clips, recorded on the couple’s home security footage, Tustin scoffs into two separate boxes of McDonald’s, while a starving Arthur is left to his own devices.

Tustin and Hughes starved the youngster, force-fed him salt-laden dishes and made him stand alone for more than 14 hours a day, in a degrading, punishing and hellish regime over the last painful months of his life.   

Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes can be seen tucking into ice creams at her Solihull home in West Midlands, last year

While the couple relax on the sofa, six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes is left to stand by himself in the hallway, wearing a fluffy onesie in sweltering temperatures

While the couple relax on the sofa, six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes is left to stand by himself in the hallway, wearing a fluffy onesie in sweltering temperatures

In other clips, recorded on the couple's home security footage, Tustin scoffs into two separate boxes of McDonald's, while a starving Arthur is left to his own devices.

In other clips, recorded on the couple’s home security footage, Tustin scoffs into two separate boxes of McDonald’s, while a starving Arthur is left to his own devices.

Six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (above) was subjected to a campaign of horrendous abuse that saw him tortured, starved and beaten in one of the most grim instances of child abuse in history

Six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (above) was subjected to a campaign of horrendous abuse that saw him tortured, starved and beaten in one of the most grim instances of child abuse in history

Social workers, police and teachers are facing damning questions after a six-year-old boy’s stepmother was found guilty of his murder – and his father convicted of manslaughter – after the pair tortured, starved and beat him to death. 

Emma Tustin killed Arthur Labinjo-Hughes by repeatedly slamming his head on a hard surface after she and 29-year-old Thomas Hughes starved the youngster and force-fed him food laden with salt. 

After killing Arthur, Tustin immediately fetched her mobile phone to take a photograph of him as he lay dying in the hallway to send to her boyfriend. 

She called 999 and told the operator Arthur had ‘banged his head’. 

After police arrived at her Solihull home, the self-pitying stepmother cried and tried to convince them the stick-thin boy had attacked her – while several miles away he lay dying in hospital. 

He passed away the next day when his life support was turned off, with medics deciding there was nothing they could do due to the catastrophic nature of his injuries. 

After concerned relatives told the council about bruises on the youngster’s back, social worker Jayne Kavanagh and support worker Angela Scarlett-Coppage visited Tustin’s home but reported ‘no concerns’ after carrying out cursory checks. 

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Tustin and Hughes had ‘coached’ Arthur and one of Tustin’s other children to pretend his injuries were the result of a play-fight. 

A day before Arthur died of ‘unsurvivable’ head injuries inflicted by Tustin, he had been rendered ‘too weak’ even to hold a glass of water to his mouth. The 130 areas of bruising found on the little boy’s body after his death equated to ‘nearly a bruise for every day of lockdown’. 

Meanwhile, social workers wanted to be anonymous when they gave evidence to the court, it can be revealed.

Jailing Tustin and Hughes on Friday, Mr Justice Mark Wall QC said the couple’s campaign of cruel abuse against the defenceless youngster had been ‘without doubt one of the most distressing and disturbing cases I have had to deal with’. 

Emma Tustin, 32

Thomas Hughes

Emma Tustin, 32, (left) killed Arthur Labinjo-Hughes by repeatedly slamming his head on a hard surface after she and 29-year-old Thomas Hughes starved the youngster and poisoned him with salt

Sick Tustin fetched her mobile phone immediately after she beat Arthur to take a photograph of the youngster (pictured, with his father Hughes) as he lay dying in the hallway of her home in Cranmore Road, Solihull, West Midlands, in June last year

Sick Tustin fetched her mobile phone immediately after she beat Arthur to take a photograph of the youngster (pictured, with his father Hughes) as he lay dying in the hallway of her home in Cranmore Road, Solihull, West Midlands, in June last year

Pictured: Six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes with father Thomas Hughes and Thomas' partner Emma Tustin. Emma Tustin has been convicted of murder and Thomas Hughes is guilty of manslaughter after a harrowing trial at Coventry Crown Court

Pictured: Six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes with father Thomas Hughes and Thomas’ partner Emma Tustin. Emma Tustin has been convicted of murder and Thomas Hughes is guilty of manslaughter after a harrowing trial at Coventry Crown Court

Ex-children’s minister: ‘We have a duty to put this right’ after Arthur’s murder 

The murder of a six-year-old boy by his stepmother should prompt change around social care, a former children’s minister has suggested.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was left with an unsurvivable brain injury while in the sole care of 32-year-old Emma Tustin, who was on Friday jailed for life after being convicted of murder by assaulting the defenceless child in Solihull on June 16, 2020.

Ex-children’s minister Tim Loughton said “we” all have a “duty” to make sure other vulnerable children are not let down by social care in the same way as Arthur, whose body was found to be covered in 130 bruises following his death.

“Funding for children’s social care has lagged behind and social workers are overstretched and undervalued, when in truth they should be revered as our fourth emergency service,” the Tory MP wrote in The Sun.

“Early interventions to stop the causes of safeguarding problems have been diluted to late interventions to firefight symptoms.

“This is a false economy where in this case a child paid with his life. We all have an interest in putting this right urgently and a duty to make sure it is.”

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Solihull’s Local Child Safeguarding Partnership launched an independent review after it emerged in court that the boy had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, but they concluded there were “no safeguarding concerns”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said ministers will leave “absolutely no stone unturned” to establish what went wrong in the “appalling” case.

Speaking during a by-election campaign visit in north Shropshire, Mr Johnson said: “It is early days, but I can tell you this, we will leave absolutely no stone unturned to find out exactly what went wrong in that appalling case.”

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he would be making a statement on the case to Parliament on Monday.

Tustin’s life sentence delivered on Friday carries a minimum term of 29 years, while Arthur’s father Thomas Hughes was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.

 

He said of little Arthur: ‘He was a healthy, happy young boy. He enjoyed his food, liked school, loved playing cricket and football and adored spending his time with his extended family.

‘He had been poisoned with so much salt that the levels of sodium in his blood could not be accurately and reliably measured. I am sure that you had also been poisoning him with smaller doses of salt for some time. 

‘It is the only explanation for Arthur being heard regularly to cry out for food while rejecting the food that you prepared for him and offered him. It explains why you had been restricting his access to free water for some time.

‘He had been completely isolated from his extended family. He was forced to live a solitary and lonely life within your home, including being made to stand to attention alone in the hallway of the house for most of the day.

‘He was made to sleep downstairs on the hard floor without a mattress. 

‘In the last three months of Arthur’s life he was subjected to the most unimaginable suffering at the hands of both of you.

‘You both told lies to conceal what was happening in that house.’

Addressing Hughes, he said: ‘You, I am sure, researched pressure pointing Arthur and then did it. Not in the playful way you suggested but as an attempt to cause maximum pain with minimum injury.’ 

Arthur’s maternal grandmother, Madeleine Halcrow, said Arthur loved nothing more than to play outside. But he was forced to wear a fluffy onesie for days during a baking heatwave and stand isolated in a hallway for 15 hours a day over six weeks in a ‘punishing regime’.

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The little boy, who ‘loved his food’ and looked forward to mealtimes, was starved and forced to drink a lethal ‘salt slurry’ before he died. CCTV caught the bullies yelling at Arthur, out of sight in the hallway, as they tucked into fish and chips and McDonald’s with Tustin’s children.

The pair ‘denigrated, debased and dehumanised him’, taking everything he loved away from him as they turned Arthur into a ‘desperately sad, thin, weak, miserable child’.

Harrowing footage taken in Arthur’s final hours showed the youngster grimacing in pain with his emaciated frame showing through his tattered pyjamas as he shouted ‘no one loves me’ four times then ‘no one is going to feed me’ seven times in 44 seconds.  

One of his twisted punishments even saw Hughes cut up the boy’s favourite Birmingham City football shirt in front of him. 

On Friday it emerged she had tried to take an overdose and hang herself in prison after already being attacked in jail by inmates dousing her with salt. 

Tests revealed Arthur had been poisoned with salt in the hours before his collapse, while a post-mortem examination found the youngster had suffered about 130 separate injuries.

Tustin admitted two counts of child cruelty during the harrowing trial in Coventry, including carrying out three assaults on the boy and also making him sit or stand in her hallway for up to 14 hours a day as part of a behavioural regime.

She accepted making 200 audio recordings of Arthur, often crying and moaning during these punishments, claiming she did so only to send them to Hughes in order to demonstrate the boy’s ‘naughty’ behaviour while he was absent.

Some of these extracts have been played to the court, including one in which the boy can be heard saying ‘no-one loves me’, and another in which he cried ‘no-one’s gonna feed me’.

Hughes, in evidence, had alleged Tustin ‘mentally abused’ and ‘gaslighted’ him into complying with the punishing disciplinary regime, but also admitted lying to school staff who were checking on Arthur’s progress during the first Covid lockdown.

Tustin, who has accepted being cruel to Arthur on occasions and was pregnant with Hughes’ unborn child at the time, has said she was ‘disgusted and ashamed’ by her admitted behaviour. 

But she callously claimed that Arthur’s fatal head injury must have been self-inflicted, possibly caused by him throwing himself down the staircase in her hallway, and describing how she heard a ‘bang’ and a ‘crack’. 

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